No challenge too big for a small block

Erick LopezThe West Australian
Custom build by Zorzi at Dalkeith.
Camera IconCustom build by Zorzi at Dalkeith. Credit: Joel Barbitta/D-Max Photography.

With large blocks becoming harder to come by in Perth, especially in sought-after suburbs, many builders are using every trick in the book to maximise the space of a small block.

Zorzi Managing Director David Reynolds said Zorzi had previously built a home on a block as small as 150sqm.

“The smallest site was 150sqm and the largest was a rural setting of several acres,” he said.

“Each had its own challenges and often the key is the planning, being able to work hand in hand with the architect or designer to consider areas of value engineering and construction methodology to achieve the very best outcome, while at the same time ensuring we maintain the client’s vision.”

However, Mr Reynolds said two homes built on the same square metre block size were not always the same.

“Another consideration is perimeter and, therefore, the base build cost of a home,” he said. “Let’s say you want to build a 200sqm home, on one site the dimensions of the home will be 10m by 20m, while on the smaller, narrower site it is going to be 5m by 40m, for example.”

“Both homes are 200sqm in area size, yet one home has about 30 per cent more brickwork and plaster than the other.”

Building smaller homes can also be more expensive than first realised, with the square metre rate generally going up because of the percentage of the home, which is taken up by more expensive wet areas.

“In addition to this you then need to consider site access,” Mr Reynolds said. “If you’re building on a corner site in a new subdivision, great, although you will spend more, as there are more street-fronting facades to dress up.

“On the other hand, if you are trapped between two builds already under construction then the challenge is building on boundaries providing site access for materials and trades to work.”

Mr Reynolds described the complexity of one of Zorzi’s custom builds in Dalkeith.

Perched on the Swan River, the site could only be accessed down a single 3m driveway and, once the preparatory work had been done, access was only possible via crane.

“A logistical nightmare, this is something we face regularly as a builder tasked with the job of building some of Australia’s finest homes in some of the most spectacular locations,” Mr Reynolds said, adding that the difficult task had paid off with the build winning the 2021 Bankwest Top WA Home title at the Master Builders-Bankwest Housing Excellence Awards.

“Whether building on a postage stamp or a rural farm, my firm advice is, for any owner looking to engage an architect or designer to create their vision, get your preferred builder in early, ask for their involvement to help better rationalise the cost of the design and the implications of the design and site.

“Have this early contractor involvement pathway set early, you can save yourself many tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in unnecessary costs.”

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